Heading South on Light Rail

April 14, 1991

After months of dickering over price, the Mass Transit Administration and the owner of the Baltimore & Annapolis Railroad have reached an agreement in principle on six miles of right-of-way that will form the backbone of the southern leg of metropolitan Baltimore's light-rail transit line.

This is welcome news for the region, and especially commuters in Anne Arundel County. The southern spur -- expected to carry 16,000 round-trip passengers a day after it opens next year -- offers substantial savings on parking and auto wear-and-tear for county residents who work in downtown Baltimore.

More important, it will open Anne Arundel's rich job market to city workers. Once difficult-to-reach employers like the Motor Vehicle Administration on Ritchie Highway, companies near Baltimore-Washington International Airport and scattered industrial parks and retail strips will be readily accessible via the southern spur and a feeder bus network. By capturing traffic between Glen Burnie and Baltimore -- particularly near the congested heart of the city -- the southern leg will also help reduce auto-exhaust pollution and the region's air-quality problems.

There are compelling reasons for this southern spur to proceed without further delay. Work has already begun on the northern leg. But a year-and-a-half of talks has thrown the Glen Burnie segment off its May 1992 completion date. For this reason, it is essential that remaining details be worked out in a timely fashion so the rail project can obtain needed approvals from the Board of Public Works. Even then, the route may not be completed till late summer or fall of next year.

But when the route is finished, the southern spur will open up new employment vistas and new business opportunities in Anne Arundel. It could mark the start of a new economic boom in the northern part of the county.

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